Evanston’s Taija Banks (22) drives past Loyola’s Paige Engels (33) during the Wildkits’ 55-33 loss at Loyola on Friday, Dec. 16. Credit: Michael Kellams/thatphotodad.com

State-ranked Loyola Academy outscored Evanston’s girls 20-1 in the third quarter Friday night and pulled away for a lopsided 55-33 nonconference basketball win in Wilmette.

The Ramblers put the running clock in effect – also known as the slaughter rule – for the entire fourth period and improved to 9-1 on the season while the Wildkits fell to 5-5.

Evanston’s leading scorer, junior Zuri Ransom, was absent after suffering a concussion earlier in the week. But Evanston Township High School head coach Brittanny Johnson declared that it’s time for her squad to stop worrying about who’s available on a day-to-day basis and come to play no matter what.

Evanston caoch Brittanny Johnson talks with the team during a timeout at the Loyola game. Credit: Michael Kellams/thatphotodad.com

“Tonight can’t be about the fact that Zuri didn’t play. We didn’t compete, so to me this is one of my worst losses as a coach,” said Johnson. “We’ve been dealing with injuries on and off for the past two or three years now and this is not a new phenomenon for us. We need more of a ‘next man up’ mentality than we have. They’re all capable players, but something is holding them back right now and I don’t know what it is.

“Loyola’s one of the top teams in the state. In the first half, we just made some bad plays, and I’m not sure what happened in the third quarter. Our mindset wasn’t great tonight. As a team we seem to take three steps forward and, at times, then we take too many steps back.”

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The Ramblers counted 3-point baskets by seven different players to build leads of 15-6, 29-18 and 49-19 after three quarters. Paige Engles paced Loyola with nine points and three of her teammates – Marycaite Markie, Clare Weasler, Julia Gamboa – netted seven apiece.

Kailey Starks topped Evanston with 12 points and Taija Banks added seven. The Wildkits are back in action next Thursday against rival New Trier at Northwestern Unversity’s Welsh-Ryan Arena.

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